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RELEASE DATE (NA): 1985 GENRE: Space Shooter
// review by SoyBomb

No, I don't want no scrums...

Oh, you can try and call this game "Alpha Mission", as it was known in North America, but I'm not going to call it that. Nope, that name's as exciting as stagnant oatmeal. In Japan, this game's called ASO... Armored. SCRUM. Object.

SCRUM. What's a SCRUM?!


1. a Rugby play in which, typically, three members of each team line up opposite one another with a group of two and a group of three players behind them, making an eight-person, three-two-three formation on each side; the ball is then rolled between the opposing front lines, the players of which stand with arms around a teammate's waist, meeting the opponent shoulder to shoulder, and attempt to kick the ball backward to a teammate.

British. a place or situation of confusion and racket; hubbub.

Armored Scrum Object, that's the kind of name you only devise in nightmares, fever dreams, and evenings of LSD-laced falderal. Unfortunately, that's probably the most interesting aspect of this game. Armored SCRUM Object is a vertical scrolling shooter from SNK (yes, the ones behind such great works as King of Fighters, Fatal Fury, and ATHEEEEEENA!! Equipped with both a general laser weapon and missiles for ground attacks, your mission is to save the Earth from warmongering aliens! Oooo! As the swift SYD ship, you'll have to fend off everything they throw at you.

Blasting ground-based buildings and foes from above often yields powerups for your ship, including improved laser attack power, more missiles, and speed, labeled with lettered icons. (L, M, S). Also, be sure to pick up those E icons. Those are chock full of beefy energy, to be used later...

Kicked in the scrum.

Armored SCRUM Object feels pretty generic, though it does look pretty nice for 1985. The one gameplay element that DOES stand out, however, is that hidden throughout each level are extra ship parts. When you need some extra firepower or armor, you can basically summon those collected parts and they'll instantly fly in to connect to your ship, and these add-ons will turn you into a lean, mean scrum machine until the energy meter runs out. (Hope you've been collecting those E icons.)

If there's one other thing I can say about Armored SCRUM Object, it's that the game is impressively difficult. This first boss alone will wipe out your bank account with how many tokens you'll need to defeat it. Even with the invincibility of your armored ship, this beast is nigh impossible, considering how many hits it takes and how much you have to dodge. ASO is not for the faint of heart or quivery of bowel. Expect death on every corner of these twelve stages, and unfortunately, if you die, you are respawned quite far back in the level with just a dinky slow shuttle. Combined with slothful controls, this one's not the most beloved shooter out there.

As with many arcade games, Armored SCRUM Object received an NES port (again released overseas as the less enticing Alpha Mission). It's a fairly standard port, true to its source material, though it's not exactly visually impressive, and the ship moves like it's covered in molasses... space molasses...

Get your scrum on, if you dare.

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